Every leader wants to be effective. This is a given. Whether it’s running a home, a business or a church, we all want to do it right. Our hearts are in the right place—we passionately desire to change lives, and, by so doing, change the world.
The fact is, however, that the desire to be effective is not enough. Good leadership never “just happens.” There are values, character traits and skills that must be in place for a leader to lead successfully.
What are these qualities? Certainly one could read many books on the subject. But why not learn from the rich resources found within The Foursquare Church?
That’s exactly what we’ve done in this three-part article series. We spoke with well-respected Foursquare leaders across the country, asking them for their thoughts on leadership. They detailed for us the qualities they believe make a great leader, as well as the potential dangers they’ve observed that can derail even the most gifted among us.
We’ve compiled a sampling of our discussions here, in the hopes that each of us may glean valuable insight that will enhance our lives and ministries as well as prevent unnecessary, and often devastating, failure.
Here in part one, we look at the components that make a great leader. In part two, we’ll discuss the issues that can derail leaders. And in part three, we’ll wrap it all up with a conversation on general leadership principles.
So, first things, first. What qualities are inherent in great leaders? In our discussions, the No. 1 answer was good character.
“This is about our ability to honestly look at and appropriately deal with situations, people and ourselves, with integrity,” says Jason Albelo, senior pastor of East Hill Church Family (Gresham Foursquare Church) in Gresham, Ore. “Being able to deal with any situation you encounter requires that you not only have a good assessment of the situation and how to deal with it or them, but also a good handle on yourself. A good leader knows where his or her character challenges are. Everyone has them, and to believe that one doesn’t is to do so at one’s own peril.”
When it comes to good character, many of our leaders felt the key component is humility.
“Humility is the first and most important quality,” says Ron Pinkston, district supervisor of Foursquare’s Central Pacific District. “If we’re going to lead people in the life of Jesus, we must model the humility that characterized His life here on Earth. An important part of humility is the willingness to be corrected. Without that, we are doomed to repeat other people’s failures, and our own.”
Competence and team-building skills were a close second to character among our interview responses.
Glenn Burris Jr., interim president of The Foursquare Church, told Foursquare.org that good leaders need to possess the following traits: “[A good leader must be] a consensus builder (have the ability to mobilize others toward a common cause); a consummate coach (have the commitment to resource and release others to maximize their contributions); and an effective communicator (have the competencies to help others grasp the challenges and the opportunities before them).”
Another important aspect of good leadership, according to those we interviewed, is having vision and the ability to cast it well.
“The leader must be a perceiver of what is to come,” says Nate Poetzl, senior pastor of New Life Center (Everett Foursquare Church) in Everett, Wash. “[A leader must have the] ability to see, or anticipate, where the organization needs to be headed in the future.”
Joe Wittwer, senior pastor of Life Center (Spokane Foursquare Church) in Spokane, Wash., agrees.
“A good leader has a clear vision of a preferred future, and the ability to cast that vision in a compelling, motivating fashion,” Joe explains. “Good leaders see what could be and take people there. To do that, they translate vision into strategy. They turn good intentions into action, which requires a plan.”
In Joe’s case, he notes that he relies on others to help him with the planning and implementation stages once the vision is cast, because he is better with the big picture than with the details.
Rounding off the top four interview responses is courage—it was clear in our interviews that without courage, a leader will not be able to see the vision the Lord has given him or her all the way through to its realization.
A leader must possess “faith and courage to move forward, regardless of the circumstances and challenges,” asserts Kimberly Dirmann, district supervisor of the Southwest District.
Jason Albelo agrees. “Wisdom isn’t enough; knowledge isn’t enough,” he states. “Solomon said it well: ‘Trust in Lord with all you heart, and lean not on you own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths’ (Prov. 3:5-6, NKJV). In the final analysis, just knowing isn’t enough—it is being courageously obedient to the voice of the Holy Spirit in our lives.”
Wayne Cordeiro, senior pastor of New Hope (Oahu South Foursquare Church) in Honolulu, sums up well the importance of leaders heeding divine wisdom.
“Leadership is all about resolving problems, and the book of James reminds us not only of wisdom’s characteristics but also of its counterfeits,” explains Wayne, noting that problems that are rectified by selfish motives or for personal gain may bring a temporary cease fire but will never accomplish peace.
“True leadership,” he continues, “acts consistently upon what love and wisdom dictate, without regard to personal promotion. Good leadership utilizes an inner compass, whose true north is fixed by the pursuit of God’s wisdom in resolving every problem.”
Good character, competence, vision and courage are only one side of the story when it comes to leading effectively in the kingdom of God. In part two of “The Makings of a Leader,” we’ll examine the perils that can derail leaders if they are not kept in check.
This is the first part of a three part series called “The Makings of a Leader.” To read the rest of the series, click below.
Part 2: The Makings of a Leader: Potential Pitfalls
Part 3: The Makings of a Leader: Words to Live By
By: Bill Shepson, a Foursquare credentialed minister and freelance writer in Los Angeles